Larry Ellison Unveils ‘Autonomous Self-Driving Database’ and New Programs to Lower Oracle Cloud Service TCO

Image credit: Kevin Twomey, Oracle

The “world’s first autonomous self-driving database” was announced by Oracle executive chairman of the board and CTO Larry Ellison during a live event at the company’s Redwood City headquarters. In addition to the database, which he said he plans to showcase in an Oracle OpenWorld presentation in October, Ellison also discussed Oracle’s emphasis on automation in platform services, and the decision to be much more aggressive in simplifying and lowering the pricing of automation around those platform services with two programs—Bring Your Own License to PaaS and Universal Credits.

'Self-Driving' Database

Available to customers in December, with more details to be shared at OpenWorld, Ellison said that key attributes of the new self-driving database PaaS are total database automation based on machine learning; elimination of 100% of the human labor associated with maintaining the database; and automatic upgrades and tuning while running.

“At Oracle OpenWorld, I am going to be doing a presentation primarily focused on the latest version of the Oracle Database, which is the world’s first autonomous database—completely self-driving. There is no human labor required to run the latest version of Oracle,” said Ellison. “It configures itself; it upgrades itself; it patches itself, and it tunes itself—all while running. It can’t forget to install a security patch, it can’t forget to have disaster recovery in a different location, and it can’t forget to back up all of your data at the frequency you need it backed up,” he said.

“If you run the autonomous database, we will guarantee it is up 99.995% of the time—and put it in the SLA, and give you money back if we don’t achieve that goal,” said Ellison. That means less than 30 minutes of planned downtime for any reason per year, he said.

'More Automation, Lower List Prices, Simplicity of Doing Business'

In the presentation, Ellison focused on key themes of automation, flexibility in deployment, and beneficial pricing, and the overall advantages of PaaS compared to IaaS, while also targeting Amazon, a key cloud competitor; as well as Equifax, the consumer credit reporting agency which recently sustained a massive data breach.

“Our strategy in infrastructure as a service from the very beginning was to be extremely aggressive on list prices,” said Ellison, selling Oracle’s compute for the same price as Amazon, and storage for the same price as Amazon. The way Oracle would compete with Amazon, considering that its list prices were the same was that Oracle’s workloads running on Oracle infrastructure would run faster than Amazon and therefore the customer’s bill would be lower, said Ellison, and “that is our ongoing strategy with infrastructure as a service.”

But the strategy is very different with the next layer up from infrastructure—platform software—complex software like database middleware and analytics, said Ellison. When organizations are running things like database, the primary cost for running the database is not the cost of the infrastructure software, or the middleware software, or the database software, or for that matter the infrastructure hardware, said Ellison. “The primary cost for running the database and middleware is labor.”

Oracle’s goal in competing in platform services has been to deliver a high degree of automation to customers and, by automating a lot of these services, to reduce the amount of labor that the customer would have to expend to run the database or the middleware. “And they would also reduce the amount of human error associated with that labor,” said Ellison. “And you say human error—how bad could that be? How expensive could a simple little mistake be? Well, I don’t know; I think if you don’t patch the database at Equifax that could be expensive. So, automating patching, for example, is extremely important. Human error can have devastating consequences. Automation eliminates human labor and human error,” he said.

“Our goal with the two strategies—seamless price on infrastructure as a service, but run faster; high degree of automation with PaaS—is to actually reach a point where we can guarantee that if you move a workload from Amazon to Oracle, your bill will drop by 50% and during Oracle OpenWorld, we are going to be showing you lots and lots of examples of that,” said Ellison.

Because of all of the automation that Oracle has offered, said Ellison, “We believe that even now that platform as a service is a better deal than infrastructure as a service because labor costs are what you really have to drive out of your data center, and human error is what you really have to drive out of your data center—cost associated with human error—so that the TCO of PaaS today, we believe, is actually lower than the TCO of infrastructure as a service. With infrastructure as service, there is not a great deal of automation at that level. There is a huge opportunity for automation at the database level, at the middleware level, and at the analytical level.”

While organizations are eager to move to the cloud, many have not due to obstacles that have forced them to choose between flexibility and lower costs, and difficulty in calculating TCO, according to Oracle.  New cloud programs, the company says, are aimed at addressing customers' cloud adoption challenges by improving and simplifying the way they purchase and consume cloud services.

During his presentation, Ellison showcased two new offers: Bring Your Own License to Oracle Database PaaS and Universal Credits. Both will be available on September 25, 2017, and be offered in Oracle Cloud as well as Oracle Cloud at Customer deployments.

Bring Your Own License (BYOL) to Oracle Database PaaS

Currently, customers are able to bring their on-premises licenses to Oracle IaaS.  Oracle is expanding the offering by enabling customers to reuse their existing software licenses for Oracle PaaS.  Customers pay only incrementally for both IaaS and PaaS automation software, and can leverage investments in existing on premise licenses for Oracle PaaS, including Oracle Database, Oracle Middleware, Oracle Analytics, and others. Oracle Database PaaS runs on standard infrastructure and Exadata infrastructure in the cloud and is offered through Oracle Cloud at Customer—which offers the same hardware and software that Oracle runs in the public cloud—in the customer’s data center behind its firewall.

Universal Credits: Flexible Buying and Consumption Choices 

In addition, said Ellison, “We have dramatically eased the complexity of contracting for and consuming cloud services.” Universal Credits offers a flexible buying and consumption model for cloud services.  With Universal Credits, said Ellison, organizations can use any of Oracle’s cloud services on demand, and customers have one contract that provides unlimited access to current and future Oracle PaaS and IaaS services, spanning Oracle Cloud and Oracle Cloud at Customer.  Customers have on-demand access to all services and the benefit of the lower cost of pre-paid services. “You don’t have to figure out in advance what you are going to buy,” said Ellison. Additionally, they have the flexibility to upgrade, expand or move services across data centers based on their own requirements or new services that Oracle introduces in the future. With Universal Credits, customers gain the ability to switch the PaaS or IaaS services they are using without having to notify Oracle, and also benefit from using new services with their existing set of cloud credits when made available. “The great thing about this is that you commit to a simple dollar volume, an annual or monthly term, and you have total flexibility to consume or not consume whatever you want.”

In summary, said Ellison, “It is a fairly simple message: By providing a lot more automation we are making it very easy to move to the cloud.”

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